New hospital campus hopes for Fall 2025 opening

Uxbridge’s hospital (once called the Cottage Hospital) has served the community faithfully for more than six decades, but it’s in need of a refresh both inside and out. The building is difficult to renovate due to the types of materials that were used back when it was constructed (1957-58). The long-awaited refurbishment was trumpeted in recent elections both provincial and municipal, and the first of three new buildings opened last year. When will the others arrive, what will they cost, and what will be in them?

First, an outline of what the new site will look like. According to Oak Valley Health VP Elena Pacheco, the new Uxbridge Hospital campus will consist of three connected buildings (see the attached aerial drawing). The first, the Oak Tree Medical Centre, opened last spring. It includes a pharmacy, a dental office, and other related health services, including a section operated by the hospital dedicated to ambulatory care and diagnostic imaging. To the west of it will be a new long-term care centre, replacing Reachview Village, increasing its capacity from 100 to 192. This building will also have a section on the second floor for hospital use, 50 beds intended for patients recovering from acute care of various types.

The third building, to the north of these two, will be the new hospital itself, with upgrades in equipment, the number of beds (up to 31 from 20), and the variety of services available. Once the new hospital opens, the old one will be demolished, with the space to be used for parking. The helicopter pad will be on the roof of the new building.

Pacheoco says that having all three buildings on the same campus will mean considerable efficiencies in utility costs and other infrastructure, such as shared kitchens and loading docks. The long-term care residents, for example, will no longer have to venture outside in winter weather, or be transported by ambulance, to take advantage of a variety of health services.

Despite all the announcements and photo ops, however, the project has yet to be given the final seal of approval by the province. When asked when approval was expected, Mayor Dave Barton replied, “Two weeks ago!” Once the go-ahead is given, the final design process can begin, expected to last eight to 12 months. Earth movers are expected to be on site by the early spring of 2024.

Although being separately funded, the hospital and long-term care centre will be built simultaneously by the same contractor. The job is expected to last about 18 months, which means the township may be able to use the new hospital, or entrust loved ones to the new state-of-the-art long-term care facility, by the early fall of 2025.

When considering the cost of the project, taxpayers only need to worry about one of the three structures that are going on the site. The Oak Tree Medical Centre was built by a local consortium of health professionals, and the long-term care centre will be paid for by Revera, the operator of Reachview. In return for the land they sit on, and reduced costs because of shared infrastructure, such as utilities and parking, each building will provide some space to the hospital free of charge, although the hospital is responsible for the furnishings and equipment in those spaces.

The estimated cost of constructing and equipping the new hospital (and as with all capital projects, it’s only an estimate until designs are finalized and tenders awarded) is just under $200 million, of which about $25-30 million will be for furnishings and medical equipment. Of the remainder, 90 per cent will be covered by the provincial government. The other 10 per cent of construction costs, as well as all the equipment costs, must come from any source other than provincial coffers: Durham Region (which has been approached to contribute $10 million), charitable foundations (including the Uxbridge Hospital Foundation), corporate and individual donors, and local fundraisers. The lower tier municipality traditionally has no fiscal responsibility for health care; the Township of Uxbridge has nothing in the budget for this project.

A local campaign committee is charged with the task of raising the local share, and will begin its quest in earnest once the project has officially begun. The money doesn’t need to be in hand by the time the shovels start digging, but the full amount must be under the mattress before the ribbon is cut.